A photography exhibit that spent the spring and summer on the fences that surround Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral downtown has now moved to St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 1819 Heights Blvd.
‘Faces of the Other: Encounters in the City,’ was part of Houston’s 2020 FotoFest exhibition.
A cultural nonprofit organization based in Houston, FotoFest organizes year-round shows as well as a biennial exhibition. FotoFest’s photo-based programs seek to illuminate social issues and present new, vital artwork.
Robin Bullington, the volunteer head of the cathedral’s Cloister Gallery, came to propose the idea of putting life-sized photographs of people from the cathedral neighborhood along the fence after seeing a similar photo display in New York City’s Lower East Side.
“I was struck by the possibility of photography in such a public context to invite connection to a stranger,” she said.
Photographer Joe Aker was enlisted for the project and found his subjects either walking downtown or through friends.
The subjects represent seven different religions, 10 or more ethnic groups, different sexual identities and different economic ranges. They range from age 5 to 92.
Aker said out of 100 asks, he only got a no about five times. The only payment in most cases was a large photographic print for the subjects to keep.
“I found that approaching people directly and looking them in the eyes with a smile was the best way to approach them about taking their photo,” Aker said.
One of those was local artist Kiki Neumann, who was introduced to Aker by Heights sculptor Damon Thomas.
“(Aker) thought I was enough of a character,” Neumann joked.
Neumann helped move the portraits to the Heights and assisted in the repair of others that were defaced by vandals this summer. There were some portraits beyond repair that Aker reprinted out of his own pocket. He said the exhibition’s move to the Heights opens it up to a whole new audience.
“It was put up last week and we have had many compliments on the installation so far,” Aker said. “The show will be up for at least three months and maybe longer. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic there will be no formal opening.”
For more information, visit www.facesoftheother.com.